Cover image of the review

The Sculpture Park

23 Jun 2018
18 Feb - 18 Feb 2020

That the Mornington Peninsula now boasts three privately endowed sculpture parks is a remarkable fact given the relatively small geographic area. Joining the long-standing McClelland Gallery + Sculpture Park (founded and chiefly supported – up until recently – by the late Dame Elisabeth Murdoch) are two new additions, both attached to wineries: Montalto in Red Hill South and Point Leo Estate at Merricks. However, where Montalto remains something of a commercial enterprise, with many of the works for sale and few senior artists included, Point Leo Estate bears many of the hallmarks of Pauline and John Gandel’s philanthropic benevolence. This is a sculpture park that combines the personal predilections of collectors, and the private collector’s preference for works by established artists, with public largesse – albeit at the price of a $10 entry ticket.

Having heard whispered tales for some years now of breath-taking real estate and extravagant sculpture commissions (a couple of which I had the fortune to preview in the fabrication stage at Fasham’s), I entered Point Leo Estate with high expectations. These were confirmed – at least initially – at the entrance by the iconic presence of the late Inge King’s Grand Arch, a black-painted steel work first conceived in 1983 and enlarged three times previously at a scale of 1:3 (in 1983), 1:2 (in 1988) and 1:15 (in 2001) – this last version sitting permanently outside the Art Gallery of Ballarat. This most recent – and, in all probability, final – enlargement, commissioned by the Gandels in 2011 at a scale of nearly 1:20, is perfectly positioned on a stone round-a-about, allowing visitors to admire the sculpture’s undulating flanks while they circle in their cars. The entry walls of the estate’s flagship restaurant and cellar door seem to cradle King’s work, echoing and accentuating its formal curves. While the decision to enlarge a work that was already in the public domain may have disappointed the artist, it is clear that Point Leo’s architects responded positively to the work, mitigating the Tarrawarra-like concrete bunker effect of the main building.

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